Treasure the Times of Rest

Most people who employ the term “much-needed rest” rarely exercise such a thought. All I knew was the light at the end of my tunnel of grind meant my thoughts were getting cloudy, my discernment was weak, my body was tired, temptations were escalating, and my emotions were fraying. What was worse is that I could tell that my family was feeding off my own instabilities. I knew we needed a break. We had set aside some time to depart as a family (some vacation time on both ends of the much anticipated annual SBC and Pastor’s Conference – both which nourish me profoundly). This break was coming at the “perfect time.”

Like any priority in life, rest must be scheduled to be achieved. Priorities are about saying “no” more than saying “yes.” As a result, I missed one mission team departure, another’s arrival, a couple of funerals of beloved saints, and summer youth camp.

Personally, I didn’t understand the expanse of this term, “rest “- beyond simply getting some extra hours of sleep. That is, until my recent road-trip with my family (which included 3,500 miles in the same vehicle together). It may not sound restful to you, but a break from the grind of routine is refreshing.

Traditionally, such breaks for me include times of reflection, rest, and reading. This trip was no different, except for one poignant reminder: the greatest refreshment comes from saturating times with each of my boys and my wife. After all, the mission field of my home carries the weightiest responsibility while also yielding the most profound reward. Drawing away with my family is not about shopping or sight-seeing, as much as it is about savoring the moments:

– Stopping at roadside parks to enjoy sandwiches while gazing upon God’s most creative works of art,
– Re-enacting Bible stories in the car,
– Savoring the teachable moments in both spontaneous and scheduled conversations about life and Lord,
– Taking family hikes,
– Spotting all kinds of wild animals (rams, turkey, sheep, elk, deer, lizards),
– Feeding chipmunks out of your bare hands,
– Wrestling on the bed,
– Splashing in the pool,
– Building forts out of random rocks.

In many Christian circles, I hear Proverbs 11:25b quoted as a promising word of encouragement. “Those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed.” But without a plan to rest, it won’t just happen. God knew about our proclivity to burn the candle at both ends before finally answering exhaustion’s call to rest. That’s why this important discipline is the 4th commandment.

I resemble the statement that it usually takes me 2 days to finally stop thinking. But once I set aside enough time to do just that, the freedom of mental open spaces begins to ignite a rejuvenated hunger for more of My Lord and His Word. The challenge, of this most recent time of rest and reflection was to bring my family along with me. If my children can observe a relaxed temperament, if my wife can notice a calm serenity, then I can lead them to treasure the simple things as well. It’s seasons like this that remind me what’s most important every day. My daily habits of conversing with Father, being spontaneous ringleader of fun, maintaining a teachable spirit through reading good books, serving my family – these traits will impact their spiritual development more than any lecture I berate upon them.

Ironically, getting away from routine does not mean that life stops. It’s life that God uses to teach us. For example, what would a road trip be without one child vomiting, one child getting ear infections, and a first for me – apparently I am prone to altitude sickness! I have learned that rest is much more wonderful than additional sleep. In fact, it may include even less sleep. Albeit, I’m very thankful when we come to Him, He will give us rest (Matthew 11:28).

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